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Celebrating Arab American Heritage Month

Published by Kassi Soulard on

This is a special post written by Charles Warren, Curriculum Developer at Triangle. Charlie is also a member of Triangle’s Racial Equity Committee. As part of our commitment to the work of our Racial Equity Committee, we will be sharing more information with you on subjects related to racial equity and disability justice. This post continues our series dedicated to calling attention to the contributions of people with disabilities to American history.

April is Arab American Heritage Month! This month, Triangle’s Racial Equity Committee (REC) is celebrating by highlighting Arab Americans who are focused on increasing awareness and empowerment for people with disabilities. The REC’s posts strive to honor intersectionality and highlight people of color with disabilities whose lives cross over multiple identities and issues ALL at the same time.

Lobna Ismail

Alttext: Lobna Ismail, a woman with light brown skin and curly hair, smiles at the camera seated in front of a bookshelf. She is wearing a pink top, and a pink scarf with gold polka-dots, and pendant earrings.

Lobna Ismail is an Arab American trailblazer. As an intercultural specialist diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), she is dedicated to building bridges between cultures. Her company, Connecting Cultures, LLC, provides training on intercultural communication, cultural competence, and Islamic awareness. In her 25 years of experience, she has worked with government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofits, and corporations including Microsoft, Walt Disney World, Darden, Sodexo, McCormick, Marriott, and the U.S. Departments of Justice and State.

As a certified Intercultural Development Inventory trainer and coach, she equips individuals and organizations with the tools they need to navigate the complexities of intercultural interactions. Ismail’s work is especially important in today’s increasingly interconnected world where our understanding of disability is informed by the concept of intersectionality. 

Ismail’s own heritage and disability experience, which reflects the rich tapestry of Arab American identity, is additionally informed by her experiences traveling throughout the Middle East and Europe.  Some of her signature workshops include “Building Cultural Competence,” “Engaging with Muslims in USA,” “Religious Diversity in the Workplace,” and “Conducting Business with Arabs.”

Advocates like Ismail have been working to address issues of underrepresentation in the Arab American and disability community, and their work has recently resulted in the addition of a Middle Eastern North African category to the census announced by the Office of Management and Budget. Changes like this can have wide-ranging impacts, such as affecting how federal dollars are disbursed, how congressional districts are drawn, and how some federal anti-discrimination and racial equity laws are enforced.

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